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Sunday 9 September 2012

Dendron, Gleaston & Leece War Memorial Committee

Stuff about memorials and remembrance continues to turn up. 

It was the Heritage Open weekend at Swarthmoor the last  few days anf friends of friends turned up bringing a photo with them. It apparently shows the Committe of Dendron, Gleaston & Leece War Memorial about 1920.

Saturday 1 September 2012

Their name liveth for evermore......

While looking at Cumbrian war memorials over the last decade I have been witness to two bloody conflicts, Butcher Blair's wars, and the maiming and killing of many hundreds of thousands of people and the ripping apart of millions of lives. Included in these are many thousands of my countrymen and women, mostly young, who have fought at the government's bidding. It is their job. It is not their place to question the motives of politicians, that is my job and yours. Many have died or been terribly injured in mind or body. Such is the nature of war. Do the Blairs, Straws, Camerons of this world ever read accounts of what war does to men, to little children, grief stricken parents, wives and partners? I think not. Too many parties at chequers, millions to be made, houses to buy, influence to be bought, careers to be followed. oil to be secured.

We say 'We WILL remember them' - but do we? Can we name a man who died in Iraq - or Afghanistan! Name two - or four. Name a man, or woman, from your town or village who died in the two great wars of the last century, or in the Boer War, or the first, second or third Afghan War!! Were they married, with children?  Were they short, tall, blonde or dark, happy or sad? Did they ever know the joy of a woman's love - or a mans?

There are thousands of memorials in Cumbria containing many tens of thousands of names. Who are these people?

The  memorial at Broughton in Furness, a quiet village standing above the river Duddon at the southern tip of Lakeland, bears 21 names from1914/19 and 10 from 1939/45. All are men. But who are they?

Two names.

Firstly - Ernest Hadwin.

Private Ernest Hadwin was a young country boy, the son of Henry and Mary Hadwin, variously of Broughton Tower, Beckfoot & Gunsons Cottages, Ulpha, a dispersed community and chapelry in the exquisite Duddon Valley. Four other brothers joined the forces; Abraham, Leonard, Robert & Thomas.

 Ernest was a territorial in 1/4th Battalion, King’s Own Royal Lancaster Regiment. From his Service Number it can be deduced that he enlisted between September 8th and September 10th, 1914, a month after war broke out. Together with the other boys of his Battalion he went to France on May 3, 1915.

The battalion's first major action on the western front was at Festubert, north of Givenchy la Bassee. 

The progress of “A” Company (less detachment) to Sap L. 8 was delayed by blocks ahead, and bridges broken by shellfire, but they reached their position and performed their allotted duty. “D” Company moved forward to support the Loyals, and threw back their right flank whilst trying to get into touch with the Grenadier Guards. At 9 p.m. the last platoon of “D” Company was sent from the reserve trench to rejoin their Company in front. The 8th Liverpools commenced to arrive and moved two Companies to the old fire trench, and one to support. Battalion Headquarters got into touch with the firing line through Lieut. Taylor, the Bombing Officer. Lieut. A. A. Wright, in charge of the Machine Gun Section, was ordered to reinforce the firing line. This move commenced, but could not be completed and the machine guns were buried as the result of enemy shell fire. All the Companies concerned exhibited great gallantry and performed their duties with devotion, and showed fine discipline and steadiness, and excellent fighting qualities. Between 10 and 11 p.m. a retirement was ordered. “D” Company still tried to establish contact with the Grenadier Guards on our right, but this was not effected until some two hours later.
                An Officer of the Loyals reported at Battalion Headquarters about midnight, but could give no clear information of conditions in front. At 12-30 a.m. on the 16th, the German counter-attack was delivered, artillery support was impracticable, heavy casualties had occurred amongst the Officers of the attacking battalions, no supports came up on our right, and our right flank was therefore in peril. Enemy pressure increased, and retirement along the line was effected in good order.
The attack was from the area of the 'Yellow Road', north eastwards. It had been disastrous.

Soldiers Died records that 3 officers and 44 other ranks of the 1st/4th Battalion, King’s Own Royal Lancaster Regiment were either killed or died of wounds on the 15th June, 1915. Two more other ranks are recorded as dying on the 16th.

Another name - Thomas Smart 

 Tom was one of 'The Few', that immortal band of young men who fought the Luftwaffe to a standstill in the high summer of 1940.

He was born in Broughton in 1919 and educated at Birkenhead Institute.. The family lived at Harley House. During the war Tom's sister, Marjorie, worked for the the Ministry of Supply, his father, Thomas, was a seaman with Elder Dempster.

Thomas joined the RAF on a short service commission in September 1937 and was posted to 10 Flying Training School, Tern Hill on 11th December. After completing his training he joined the staff at No. 1 Air Armament School at Manby. 

In early 1940 he was with 65 Squadron at Northolt. Over France on 22nd May he damaged a Ju88, on the 24th shared a Hs126, over Dunkirk on the 26th destroyed a Me110, on the 27th two Do17’s and on 25th June a probable Me109 and damaged another.He probably destroyed a Me109 and damaged two others on 12th August, destroyed a Me109 and damaged another on the 13th and destroyed a Do17 and probably another on the 26th. He destroyed a bomber at night on 10th January 1941 and an Me109 on 8th July. He was posted away from 65 in October to be an instructor.
Amongst those recently decorated by H.M. the King was Acting Flight-Lieut. Thomas Smart of Broughton-in-Furness, who is attached to No. 65 Squadron, R.A.F., and who, it will be recalled, was awarded the D.F.C. in January last.
                He was accompanied at the Palace by his cousins, Mr. and Mrs. Wesley Packham, of London.
-: Barrow News, Saturday, April 19, 1941;

  Squadron Leader Tom Smart was given command of 229 Squadron at Ta Kali, Malta in November 1942 and led it until he was killed on 12th April 1943. His Spitfire EP716 was shot down, most likely by Oblt. Gunther Hannak of JG27. Smart baled out too low for his parachute to fully deploy. He is commemorated on the Malta Memorial & the Battle of Britain Memorial.

Tom was awarded a Bar to the DFC (gazetted 18th September 1945) with effect from 11th April 1943.

Tom can be seen in this photo of pilots of 65 Sq during the Battle of Britain.

Foreground seated L to R
F/Sgt Franklin, F/Sgt Tew, Brian Kingcombe, Tom Smart, and KG Hart (back to camera sunglasses)
Standing L to R: S/L Des Cooke, F/S MacPherson, F/Lt GAW Saunders, F/O 'Bunny' Walker, Sgt Kilner.

Two men. Remembered. Of thousands.